Crazy Hot is the first book in a new Brockmann-esque series, and I found it pretty interesting. It’s essentially about a bunch of guys who work for a top-secret quasi-government agency affiliated with a garage. But not just any garage; the place they refer to as “Steele Street” has top-notch security and dozens of souped up machines. All the cars are turbo charged, and all of them have girls’ names. The cars are central to the plot, as they are frequently used to outrun bad guys (when they aren’t serving as venues for sex, that is). Frankly, it’s about as believable as the average Superfriends episode, but sometimes I like Superfriends.
Regan McKinney isn’t exactly sure how she ended up in Cisco, Utah looking for her grandfather. A paleontologist who prefers quiet, behind the scenes work in a lab, Regan is not exactly the adventurous type. But her grandfather hasn’t spoken to anyone in months, and she’s worried. Following a lead from his planner, she drives to Cisco looking for Quinn Younger, hoping for some answers. She has no idea that she’s being followed. As she peeks into an abandoned building, Quinn (who spotted the bad guys on surveillance equipment) grabs her and keeps her from danger until the bad guys leave the area.
Regan and Quinn share a past of sorts. Quinn was once a punk kid busted for stealing cars, and he ended up in Regan’s grandfather’s work program. Like Regan, Wilson McKinney is a paleontologist, but he prefers working in the field. In years past he ran a program for troubled youth. While Quinn participated in the program, he admired Regan from afar, and in one very memorable moment, he accidentally walked in on her dressing and saw her nearly naked. It’s a moment that neither has forgotten. After Quinn left the work program he went on to do big things, and became a national hero during the Gulf War. After his plane was shot down behind enemy lines, he successfully evaded capture and ended up with his picture on the cover of People magazine. He now works for Steele Street, doing top-secret work the government can’t quite trust to anyone else.
Regan quickly realizes that she’s walked into a dangerous situation. As she and Quinn flee Cisco in an ugly but powerful Camaro named Jeanette, outrunning bad guys, Quinn explains that he and his colleagues have stolen something from a Denver Crime boss (Roper), and Roper is quite keen to get it back. Quinn had been a double agent who got busted and shot at, and barely escaped with his life. Roper doesn’t just want the stolen goods – he wants Quinn’s head on a platter. Eventually, Regan learns that her grandfather is involved because the stolen goods are dinosaur bones. Wilson has been working on them for the better part of the month, so engrossed in the project that he hasn’t bothered to call. And since Roper’s men have followed Regan, her entire family is in danger. At this point a secondary plot begins featuring Regan’s little sister Nikki and Quinn’s colleague Kid Chronopolous, AKA Kid Chaos (yeah, I know). Nikki is a somewhat unusual artist, and Kid is a technology wunderkind/sniper.
Virtually the entire book takes place within twenty-four hours. This works somewhat better than one might expect, probably because Quinn and Regan have a past. And while it seems like a minor, innocent encounter, both of them have spent plenty of time thinking about it. They’ve more or less been fantasizing about each other for years, so when they quickly jump into sex (there really aren’t any beds to jump into) the reader can buy into it. Whether their relationship would really be resolved so quickly amidst the shooting and car chases is another matter. Let’s just say you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief. The same goes for Nikki and Kid’s supercharged, fast paced tumble into the sack (unlike their counterparts, they do get an actual bed).
Having already suspended disbelief to accept the sexual relationships, you might as well just shelve it entirely so you can buy into the bad guy/crime plot. The nature of the stolen goods is at best nonsensical and at worst silly. Since I’d already bought into the sexual relationships, cars with girls’ names, and the quasi government agency, I decided to just run with it. In for a penny, in for a pound. But if you like your romantic suspense to be hyper-realistic, this particular scenario might not sit all that well with you.
So why was I so willing to buy into this? It’s simple. Quinn and Regan are great characters, and the sex scenes are not just hot; they’re stellar. They worked for me in a way that few sex scenes have in years. I’d guess that love scenes take on a certain sameness for virtually all long-time romance readers. So often we’ve been there and done that about a thousand times over. The ones here are different. Part of the reason is that I really enjoyed the “we’re each other’s secret sex fantasy”scenario. Could I really believe that Regan had secretly pinned up Quinn’s people magazine cover in her closet? Maybe not, but I could understand how she’d fantasized about him. Similarly, Quinn makes an almost thrilling confession about something he did while Regan was married to another man. It’s probably only a step up from chest-thumping, hair-dragging caveman behavior, but it really resonates on a pure fantasy level. The language and the thoughts of the characters are also very sexy. The same goes for the scenes between Kid and Nikki, but in a completely different way. Their scene is one I never could have imagined in a million years, and it involves make-up, paint, and “getting in touch with the feminine side.” This particular relationship goes unresolved, so doubtless we will see more of these two in a future book. I definitely intend to read it.
There is one thing I have to mention because it simply drove me crazy. Quinn repeatedly swears (which never bothered me) but also says Geezus. Not Jesus, Geezus. This flat out drove me nuts, and this is not the first place I’ve seen it. Dayum for damn is becoming ubiquitous, and one of Quinn’s colleagues actually used the truly shudder-inducing Kee-rist instead of Christ. Please, for the love of God, Jesus, and anyone else, just use the real word and spell it normally.
That rant – and my disbelief issues – aside, I truly enjoyed this book, and I plan to read the others in the series. Yes, it’s pure fantasy. And sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with that.